Prima Ballerina, Mariinsky Ballet
Artistic Director & Founder, International festival of contemporary choreography Context. Diana Vishneva
Former Principal Dancer, American Ballet Theatre
Prize Winner, Prix de Lausanne 1994
Jury Vice-President, Prix de Lausanne 2023
Participation itself is an honor. The Prix de Lausanne became a milestone in my career. It appeared nothing predicted my victory but I went to represent the names of my ballet school – Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet, my teacher Lyudmila Kovaleva, Igor Belsky, who staged the contemporary piece Carmen for me to the Bizet-Shchedrin music. When I won, I could not believe it at first. The competition made me stronger. I discovered contemporary dance through it when I witnessed how students from other academies performed pieces by John Neumeier or Mats Ek. It helped me understand how the artists do their rehearsals abroad and how the contemporary dance class runs. I could only dream about that choreography back then. It gave me the aspiration to find myself in the world of contemporary dance and a new way of thinking.
Not being afraid and trusting yourself and your teacher are the most important things about your participation in the Prix de Lausanne. Remember that artists grow as they pass many steps that shape them as professionals and provide inspiration for further development of their skills. The competition is the step that opens new ways for you and enhances your artistic career. Whether you win or not, participation provides an opportunity to make your dance a statement to the world and is a unique chance to show your talent and competence.
The competition remains one of the most significant events in the ballet world. Many outstanding artists came through it and made their names known. I wish the team a lot of strength and inspiration to continue their beautiful endeavor, this necessary search for new talents and their support. It is an honour for me to return after 29 years as a member of a jury. Remembering my participation, the jury’s attention, and its outcome, I feel a great responsibility for my words of support to the participants and how my counsel may help them in their future professional development.
Born in St. Petersburg (Leningrad), Diana Vishneva entered the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet at the age of 11. In 1994, she had won the Grand Prix and Gold Medal at the Prix de Lausanne before graduating and started to dance the leading classical roles at the Mariinsky Theatre while still being a student. As well as the ballets of Fokine or Petipa, she mastered choreographies by Balanchine, Ashton, MacMillan, Grigorovich, Neumeier, Forsythe, Béjart, Petit, and Preljocaj, dancing on the world’s leading stages including Metropolitan Opera, Opera de Paris, Bolshoi, and the Royal Opera House. In 2005–2017, she was a principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre.
On her career path, she enjoyed performing in ballets staged exclusively for her by such acknowledged names in the ballet world as John Neumeier, Jean-Christophe Maillot, Aleksey Ratmansky, Carolyn Carlson, and others. Vishneva commissioned three individual ballet programs, such as Beauty in Motion (2008), Dialogues (2011), and On the Edge (2013), which won 5 national prizes Golden Mask.
After fifteen years of her career, she established the Diana Vishneva Foundation. Its mission is to make ballet more approachable for various social groups, promote ballet art and initiate new art projects in cooperation with foreign dance companies and choreographers, hold exhibitions and other cultural events, provide targeted support for ballet artists who have sustained professional injuries and provide social support upon retirement.
In 2013, Diana Vishneva established the international contemporary dance festival Context. Diana Vishneva. It takes place in Moscow and St Petersburg every year. The festival provides support and opportunities to the young choreographers in Russia and showcases the world’s best contemporary dance productions. Its mission is to show the world of contemporary choreography at its best and, above all, to help talented directors make a name for themselves and attain their proper position in the community of foreign masters of dance. In 2017, Diana established Studio Context in St. Petersburg, promoting the idea that the art of dance can be accessible for all people disregarding their training level or physical abilities.Vishneva holds some of the most prestigious awards, including the State Prize of Russia, the People’s Artist of Russia,the Best Dancer of Europe, the Divine prize, the Prix Benois de la Danse, the Golden Sofit, six Golden Masks, and the Ballerina of the Decade award.